Overview of Australia's aid program to Nauru

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$21.1 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$21.2 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$25.2 million

It is in Australia’s interest to support a stable and economically sound and resilient Nauru that has the capacity to effectively manage its resources and deliver to its community the benefits from economic and labour mobility opportunities.  Australia is Nauru’s most significant donor, contributing approximately 15 per cent of domestic revenue in 2014–15.  Australia’s aid in Nauru forms part of our broader economic and diplomacy efforts to promote prosperity and security in the Pacific region. 

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $25.2 million in total ODA to Nauru in 2015–16.  This will include an estimated $21.2 million in bilateral funding to Nauru managed by DFAT.

Recent significant growth in the private sector has resulted in Nauru now enjoying almost full employment with many households earning higher incomes than has been the case for many years, however, poor health and education outcomes persist.  Despite significant progress in reducing Nauru’s debt burden in recent years, high debt levels continue to absorb significant funding and the economy is easily affected by external influences.  Energy and clean water production are reliant on the costly importation of diesel fuel.  Public sector management is hampered by a lack of skilled and qualified personnel, and critical national infrastructure is dilapidated.

Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), led by the Department of Employment, connects Pacific island and Nauruan workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas.  Nauru is about to send its second cohort of 20-30 workers to Queensland and Victoria.

Australia’s commitment to development cooperation with Nauru is ongoing with a shared objective of supporting stable and fiscally responsible government; promoting human development and essential infrastructure services.

Our program is organised around the following three strategic objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19.

Objective 1:  Promoting more effective public sector management

Supporting Nauru to strengthen financial management capacity and economic governance is essential to maximising the benefits of available revenue.  Australia is funding the recruitment and salaries of three deputy secretaries within the Departments of Finance, Customs and Revenue. These positions are responsible for policies associated with revenue collection, including customs revenue, debt management and fiscal management.

Promoting more effective public sector management

Objective 2:    Investing in nation building infrastructure

Construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support human development and foster commerce and trade is consistent with Australia’s strategic interests.  Investing in infrastructure promotes economic growth and facilitates trade.  Australia is supporting the redevelopment of Nauru hospital and infrastructure, for example, improvements to power generation and water supply, which will deliver aid for trade benefits.

Investing in nation building infrastructure

Objective 3:  Supporting human development

Australia is assisting Nauru to deliver better health and education services by improving the quality of education and primary health care.  A healthy and educated populace is critical to Nauru’s economic growth and poverty reduction.  Supporting Nauru to address obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, and strengthen its education results is a priority.  Improved education outcomes and tertiary scholarships will assist to build a larger cohort of educated people able to take up key positions in government, private and state-owned enterprises as well as employment opportunities in the region.

Supporting human development

Our results

In 2014–15, Australia's aid program contributed to:

  • Achieving 100 per cent primary school enrolment in 2013–14, up from 69 per cent in 2002.
  • Maintaining a 95 per cent coverage rate for key vaccines including tuberculosis, measles, hepatitis B, polio, diphtheria and tetanus.
  • Helping Nauru reduce its overall debt burden by more than 90 per cent since 2006 through the development of a debt management strategy.
  • Three trainee nurses being promoted to Graduate Nurses in the hospital.
  • Nauru’s first female law graduate working as a Principal Legal Officer with the Department of Justice and Border Control.
  • A former accountant achieving a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and taking up a senior position in the Department of Finance.
  • Addressing domestic violence and decision-making through the placement of a gender-based violence counsellor/specialist and working to expand women’s roles in leadership.

Our changing program

Our aid program in Nauru is focused on the needs of the broader Nauruan community and the development priorities of the Government of Nauru – improving public sector management, investing in nation building infrastructure and supporting human development.

We will work towards consolidating investments, targeting resources and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of flagship sectors such as health and education.  We will strengthen synergies between Australian bilateral and regional investments, and between investments supported by DFAT and other Australian government departments.  Budget support for operational expenses in the utilities sector will cease and we will focus on major infrastructure developments such as the hospital reconstruction, education facilities and other essential infrastructure.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pictured with Nauru's Minister for Education Hon. Charmaine Scotty, MP and students from Nauru Secondary School (credit: DFAT).
Billboard, Nauru
Billboard, Nauru (credit: DFAT).
A woman holding medicine
Providing important medicines at Nauru Hospital (credit: DFAT).